Intellectual Property in Connecticut
Information-based industries are driving national and international economic growth. New England and, especially, Connecticut are at the forefront of this change. Connecticut is ranked as one of the five leading states in preparing for the new economy. It is first in the nation for the number of patents issued per capita, and eighth among states in high-technology jobs as a share of total employment. Connecticut is home to major biotechnology companies (Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer), many technology-dependent defense industries (General Dynamics, Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney), numerous media companies (ESPN, WWF, Sonalysts), as well as the home of United Technologies, Xerox, and General Electric.
Connecticut also enjoys broad-based growth in its information economy. Nearly 98% of companies with new patents received 40 or fewer patents. Connecticut is among the top ten states in domain names registered. Software and information industries are among the fastest growing in the state. This remarkable growth has led to a demand for intellectual property lawyers. In a recent nationwide survey of attorneys, 58% of those polled identified intellectual property as the fastest growing field of law.
Much of the success of Connecticut in those industries with major intellectual property assets comes from its extraordinarily well-educated workforce. Connecticut is second in the country in having a workforce dominated by managers, professionals, and technicians, over 30% of its total number employed. The idea of human invention has a long tradition in New England.
New Haven's Eli Whitney invented not only the cotton gin--the most commercially valuable invention of the first fifty years after the American Revolution--but was also an early figure in promoting changes in U.S. patent law after he discovered plantation owners might reproduce the cotton gin so long as they did not sell it in the commercial market. Despite these difficulties, Whitney's method of using interchangeable parts-and creating machines to make more machines-became the basis for an industrial culture of milling, tooling, and manufacturing. In Hartford, Sam Colt built a plant which turned out 5,000 finished arms in its first year-a staggering increase from previous hand-tooling methods. Songs were sung about Colt's repeating rifle. English author Charles Reade proclaimed "American genius is at this moment ahead of all nations in mechanical invention."
Such Yankee inventiveness took place in the field of literature as well. Connecticut resident Noah Webster, whose home is located near the law school, published his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1783, was critical in shaping a new American English for the New Republic and sold over 30 million copies. Not surprisingly, he was one of the foremost advocates of a copyright system. Webster personally traveled around the country to lobby state legislatures to pass copyright statutes. Connecticut's copyright statute was the first in the nation. A trio of Connecticut lawyers--John Trumbull, Royall Tyler, and Hugh Brackenridge--established Connecticut as a center of literary activity in the early 19th century.
But it was the Law School's neighbor, Mark Twain--his house and Harriet Beecher Stowe's home at Nook Farms are only blocks away--who best summed up the tradition of Yankee inventiveness. The author of that wonderful guide book to Yankee ingenuity, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, had a complex, often troubled relationship with both patent and copyright. He hoped to make his fortune in new inventions-new printing machines and the like--until he lost a small fortune. When an agent from the fledgling Bell Telephone Company offered to sell him as much stock as he liked for $500, he refused to risk another penny in his search for lucrative patents--and lost his best opportunity to become truly wealthy. Twain's financial success depended upon copyright, and, in the tradition of Noah Webster, he urged Congress to extend protection to authors for more than the statutory 42 years. "Only one thing is impossible for God," Twain wrote, "to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet." This failed promoter of patents, and ever so successful holder of copyrights, might have appreciated the irony that so close to his home there is a Law School which sets out to do just that.